Sail away with the Southern Highlands Sailing Club

ON THE WATER: Southern Highlands Sailing Club secretary Blue Robinson waving to a media boat onboard the Volvo 65 Turn The Tide on plastic. Photo: Contributed

ON THE WATER: Southern Highlands Sailing Club secretary Blue Robinson waving to a media boat onboard the Volvo 65 Turn The Tide on plastic. Photo: Contributed

Which sporting club in the Southern Highlands has the most Olympic Gold medalists in its membership?

The Southern Highlands Sailing Club (SHSC) at Fitzroy Falls.

The club has five honorary Olympic gold medalists, including four Australian and one British, and one double Paralympic Gold medalist in the form of now Australian MP Liesl Tesch.

After the London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, SHSC secretary Blue Robinson to become honorary members of the Southern Highlands Sailing Club.

This was in order to raise the profile of sailing and water sports here in the Highlands.

“It all started with Sir Ben Ainslie, who won in Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London, so with four gold medals in the Finn class, he is the most decorated Olympic sailor in history,” Robinson said.

“Ben started in the tiny Optimist class when he was a kid, and so recognises the importance of grass roots sailing and getting people off the couch and away from screens large and small - and that is what the club at Fitzroy Falls is all about.”

With the sailing season well underway, the new Commodore Kyle Woods, a Hobie 14 sailor is a strong advocate for outdoor activities.

‘The club is all about welcoming people, introducing them to the reservoir, advising them of the basic safety rules and encouraging participation. Whatever you do - get out and get active!’

Robinson admits he has been very fortunate to have been exposed to very high levels of international sailing, with some of his highlights recently training with America’s Cup teams onboard the foiling catamarans, racing through the Southern Ocean the wrong way around the notorious Cape Horn, winning a World Championship, and this year taking part in the Leg Zero of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Robinson’s leg included the brutal Fastnet race, “basically four days and nights hard racing without much sleep - but less cold than the Southern Ocean!”.

The competition was fierce, with all seven Volvo 65 race yachts in their division finishing within 39 minutes of each other after 605 miles of racing.

Now back home in the Highlands, Robinson is clear on the importance of the Southern Highlands Sailing Club.

“This is a social club that promotes water based activities in the heart of the Highlands,” he said.

“We all know it is important for physical and mental health to get out and get involved.

“That is what we are about – taking part, meeting people, learning new skills and having fun!” Visit www.facebook.com/highlandsailing for more information.